If this is to be an inflection point in World Baseball Classic history, a moment when the tournament explodes in popularity worldwide, it’ll be in part because the past two weeks — from the first pitch in Taiwan to Shohei Ohtani’s last slider to Mike Trout in Miami on Tuesday — were when major-league stars could no longer stomach staying at spring training and missing out.
That’s how Trout felt watching Adam Jones and Team USA win in 2017.
That’s how he’s hoping other MLB stars feel now.
Trout already has pledged to reprise his role as Captain America for the 2026 WBC, and his recruiting efforts are in motion. Team USA assembled a legendary lineup this spring, but the overall roster could have been better. The rotation and bullpen lacked both star power and depth. And, in the end, the bats quieted and fell one run short of a repeat WBC title.
So, let’s imagine that watching Samurai Japan celebrate Tuesday night stirred something within the American stars who had opted for backfield games and PFPs (pitcher fielding practice) over international play. Let’s say they all want in for the 2026 WBC now. That’s right. It’s time to draw up a Dream Team.
In creating this 30-player Team USA Dream Team roster — 15 position players, 15 pitchers — we considered age, projection and past performance. We can’t know who’ll still be playing in 2026, or whether they’ll be injured, or at which positions they’ll settle, or whether top prospects will pan out by then … regardless, I think you’ll like the roster that’s taking shape.
Adley Rutschman -- Orioles -- 28 years old
J.T. Realmuto -- Phillies -- 34 years old
Realmuto looked right at home behind the plate for Team USA this month, wearing a star-spangled chest protector and batting .500 in four WBC games. Realmuto is the best catcher in the majors today, but by 2026 he’ll have company in Rutschman — the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year runner-up and one of the best young players in baseball.